Published: Nov 23, 2012 1:24 AM EST
Updated: Nov 23, 2012 12:54 PM EST

Black Friday got off to its earliest start yet as the nation's shoppers put the turkey down to take advantage of stores' expanded hours.

Stores typically open in the wee hours of the morning on the day after Thanksgiving that's named Black Friday because that is when they traditionally turn a profit for the year. But Black Friday openings have crept earlier and earlier over the past few years. This year, crowds gathered across the country as stores from Target to Toys R Us opened their doors as early as Thanksgiving evening.